5 Things You Need to Know About Filing a Trademark in Europe: Differences with the US and Whether to File for Both

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When building a business, one of the most important things you can do is protect your intellectual property. One way to do that is by filing a trademark. Trademarks are a way to legally protect your brand, logo, or slogan and prevent others from using it without your permission. 

Expanding your business operations into Europe can be an exciting and lucrative opportunity, but it’s crucial to understand the trademark registration process to protect your brand identity. Here are five things you need to know about filing a trademark in Europe, including the differences with the US and whether to file for both.

Understand the different types of trademarks

Before you file for a trademark, it’s important to understand the different types available in Europe. The main types are word marks, figurative marks, and combined marks. Word marks protect the words and letters used in your brand name or slogan. Figurative marks protect the design or visual elements of your brand, such as a logo or graphic. Combined marks protect both the word and figurative elements of a brand.

Conduct a comprehensive search

Before filing for a trademark, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive search to determine the availability of your desired trademark. This search will reveal any existing trademarks similar to yours and assess whether they may cause marketplace confusion. Conducting a thorough search of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) database is a critical step in ensuring that your trademark is eligible for registration and doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. By taking the time to conduct a proper search, you can avoid potential infringement issues, and opposition proceedings, and save time and money down the line.

Choose the right class(es)

Choosing the right class(es) of goods and services is crucial when filing a trademark in Europe, as well as in other countries. The EUIPO has 45 different classes, and selecting the wrong class could render your application useless. Carefully considering the goods and services associated with your mark is essential for a successful registration.

Work with a qualified attorney

Trademark law is complex, and navigating the registration process can be challenging. Working with a qualified attorney who specializes in trademark law can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your application meets all the necessary requirements. An experienced attorney can also provide valuable advice on trademark strategy and help you protect your brand identity.

Filing in EU Vs. US – what are the Differences?

There are significant differences between filing a trademark in Europe and the United States. One major difference is that European examiners do not examine applications on the basis of relative grounds unless opposition is lodged. They only examine based on absolute grounds or non-compliance with formalities. Absolute grounds include factors such as the use of generic terms, lack of distinctiveness, and descriptiveness. 

Should You File a Trademark in Both EU & US?

Whether to file for a trademark in both the EU and the US ultimately depends on your business goals and expansion plans. If you plan to expand into both regions, filing for trademarks in both the EU and the US can help protect your brand in all relevant markets. However, if you plan to focus solely on one region, it may not be necessary to file for a trademark in the other region. 

In conclusion, understanding the trademark registration process in Europe is crucial for protecting your brand identity when expanding your business operations. Conducting a comprehensive search, working with a qualified attorney, and choosing the right class(es) can help ensure a successful registration. Whether to file for a trademark in both the EU and the US ultimately depends on your business goals and plans for expansion.

Do you have any questions about the process? Our partners from the Cabilly & Co. law firm will be happy to help you.